The Milwaukee Bucks aren't breathing down the Bulls' necks liked Indiana, but the Bucks had won three straight road games before visiting the United Center on Friday.
The Bulls also took a little slap in the face from Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings, who dropped 16 points in the first quarter.
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Derrick Rose was watching. Actually, he was trying to guard Jennings during most of that outburst. By the end of the night, Rose had passed Jennings and probably lapped him a couple times.
Rose scored a season-high 34 points, Jennings finished with 25 and the Bulls bounced back from a loss to the Pacers by beating Milwaukee 107-100.
When the game ended and the Bulls got the last look at their home locker room before the start of a two-week road trip, Rose was his usual subdued self.
He made absolutely nothing about the personal battle with Jennings. Rose claimed he was simply following instructions from coach Tom Thibodeau.
"I was going to attack no matter what," Rose said. "I was talking to Thibs before in the shootaround. He was just telling me to attack. He didn't know that Rip (Richard Hamilton) wasn't going to play. He was just telling me to go out there and play the way I normally play."
The Bulls (17-4) survived another injury, a thigh bruise that knocked out Hamilton. Luol Deng remains out with a torn ligament in his left wrist, while Taj Gibson returned to play 15 minutes after missing three games with a sprained ankle.
Milwaukee had injury concerns of its own. With center Andrew Bogut sidelined by a broken left ankle, the Bulls' big men had a free pass to crash the boards. Carlos Boozer finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Joakim Noah had 15 and 16.
"To be quite frank, D-Rose just took the challenge on," Boozer said. "He kept pushing, kept bringing it and we fed off that."
Rose scored 10 points in the first quarter, but took an early seat with 2 fouls. He went into overdrive in the third quarter, scoring 14 points as the Bulls stretched a 1-point halftime lead to 67-54 at the 5:33 mark. Rose hit 14 of 24 shots overall.
As inspiration, Rose didn't credit Jennings, but Wednesday's loss to the Pacers, the Bulls' first at home this season.
"We always say, 'No two in a row.' It's been helping us so far," Rose said. "When we lose a game, guys are amped up to go out there and play again. You can tell when we go back in practice, everyone's just focused in."
Jennings hit just 4 of 14 shots for 9 points in the final three quarters. Former Bull Drew Gooden collected 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks (7-11).
"They sent a lot of guys at me," Jennings said. "I couldn't throw it up like I did in the first half."
In Hamilton's place, Kyle Korver (9 points) got his first start in two seasons with the Bulls. Ronnie Brewer started again for Deng and didn't shoot well (2-for-13), but led the team in assists with 6.
Brian Scalabrine fell out of the rotation with Gibson back on the floor. C.J. Watson also got to play some two-guard and tacked on 13 points.
The nine-game road trip begins on Sunday at Miami, which will be the first meeting since the Bulls lost the Eastern Conference finals in five games.
"It's definitely not another game," Noah said.